You are viewing extempore

Mar. 13th, 2009 @ 02:26 pm how far hellmuth taunting has come
About this Entry
From:naturalborn
Date:March 18th, 2009 11:14 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
The commentary on hoss-tbf's original post says that PH seems so ridiculously overtight in play and commentary because he's good at no limit but doesn't adjust his game to anything else. Is that basically accurate? Some of those plays make me wonder though - folding after the second reraise right after the flop? Aren't you already pot commited there? Why not call just in case you hit trips on the river?

The whole commentary reminds me of a n00b question I have about poker strategy generally. The right response to playing an overly tight player is to play loosely and get the to fold, while the right response to an overly loose player is to play tightly to take advantage of when they overextend. So, uh, who's supposed to have an advantage in a game between an overly tight and an overly loose player? They can't both have the advantage. Is it that whoever's play is less distorted will win in the end, or is there a nuance other than tight vs. loose which I'm missing out on? I have a tendency it seems to go way too tight on very loose tables (well, maybe, part of my problem is that I get bored out of my mind folding everything and join the occasional hand just to have something to do). This is the advice given by the books, but when I do it frequently everybody just folds on the rare occasions when I enter a pot.
From:naturalborn
Date:March 18th, 2009 11:17 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
er, instead of 'on the river', I meant 'on the turn'. The stupid play is to not hit trips and then call a raise the other guy does on the turn. I think. I could be totally wrong and it's just giving away a blind to call that second raise on the flop.
[User Picture Icon]
From:michaelsullivan
Date:April 1st, 2009 11:58 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Since Paul has punted, I'll give this a quick response. The standard response of some people to play tighter in response to an overly loose opponent is wrong.

For starters, being a bit too tight, or a bit too loose is at worst a small mistake, and we haven't solved any interesting form of poker yet, so nobody really knows what game-theoretic optimal play looks like. Unless somebody is making a pretty obvious mistake, you should be making your best approximation of good standard strategy rather than trying to exploit your opponent and potentially exposing more of your own errors to them.

The question is what to do with a players who is clearly erring one way or another by a fair bit. In general, exploiting any player involves loosening up. Think about it. More folding == tighter play. We fold because we can't see how to make money in a given situation. If our opponent is making an exploitable mistake, that gives us more opportunities to make money, thus fewer times we want to fold.

But you can take it too far, someone can be exploitably too-tight, but you still need to be careful. You can be extremely aggressive when they haven't committed much money, but even a rock will call/raise you when they have a big hand, and if they are way too tight, once they've put a lot of money in the pot, you can be pretty sure they have one. So exploiting a too-tight player involves being loose aggressive early, but tighter late.

Mostly it's a matter of thinking carefully about what mistake they are making and the natural way to exploit it. A lot of people see a mistake and apply some truism like this only to end up making a bigger mistake than their opponent.

This is a perfect example. If you identify an overly loose opponent and tighten up in response, you are essentially making their play better. And in fact, this is probably what's going on with phil h, in sessions like that hoss_tbf one. He's following that mistaken advice rather than actually thinking about the odds and hand distribution freshly and coming up with a good strategy.
From:naturalborn
Date:April 3rd, 2009 12:14 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Thank you, that was very helpful.

What about the specific situation where you're at a table where people are playing practically anything pre-flop, and almost every hand comes to a showdown? Sklansky specifically says that you should approach such tables by folding anything other than AA, KK or AK pre-flop (or something like that, I could be wrong about the exact hands) but in my experience that is (a) boring beyond belief, (b) actually drops a lot of blinds, and (c) everybody suddenly becomes a lot better and folds against you if you stayed in and an A or K showed up after the flop, but stays in if none did and destroys you in a showdown. I'm reluctant to say that Sklansky is wrong, but I've had much better luck at such tables playing practically any draw pre-flop and folding post-flop if my draw isn't hit. (Especially because, maybe I'm paranoid here, but the amount of re-raising such people do seems to amount to overt collusion at times - you can't just call and assume you're on to the next card). Unfortunately for me, even when just playing hit draws you frequently run into interesting situations post-flop if one or two other players are still in, which basically means that in order to figure out how to play them you need to work out which of the other players are good and which are fish during play, and that's a whole lot more information playing full-handed than I'm able to absorb at this point.
[User Picture Icon]
From:michaelsullivan
Date:April 4th, 2009 05:50 am (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
If sklansky said that I don't know what he was thinking, but that's exactly the wrong strategy in the kind of game you describe. (I assume you are talking about limit, I can't imagine a NL game where everything goes to showdown, but if you know one, I want in). You might be able to be +EV with that strategy, but it won't be by much and only because everybody else is playing so poorly.

My charitable interpretation is that if sklansky said that it's because he's thinking about games that aren't actually anywhere near that loose, and where players are aggressive and fairly smart about postflop play.

But you are correct. If you are folding 98% of your hands and then suddenly come alive, even some of the most idiotic calling stations are going to figure you for a power hand.

the key to limit games like you describe where just about every hand goes to showdown, is to realize that you are playing a 7-card game. There are lots of hands that you'd fold most of the time in a strong game, that you should be playing much more often in a very loose passive game. Pretty much any suited connector or suited ace may be worth playing except in early position, for instance (and maybe even in EP if you can raise and get 4-5 callers or limp and expect not to see a raise).

Also, when multiple players are in the pot and likely to stay in the pot, draws can be stronger than middlin' made hands. If there are 5 players seing the flop, and 2-3 are likely to see the river with anything that could make a hand, I'd almost rather flop a naked nut flush draw than something like TPTK. Bad calls often pay more equity to the best draw than to something like TPTK. Judge your power not by how good your hand is, but by how many ways you can make a *really* good hand: two pair or better on the weakest boards and stronger the more connected/powerful the boards are.

It's really common sense. In a game where lots of people go to the river, what matters is having the best hand on the river, not having the best hand preflop or on the flop. Sticking with power hands is about having the best hand preflop and on the flop.
From:naturalborn
Date:April 4th, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
(Permanent Link)
Sklansky specifically advocated that kind of play for games where everybody re-re-re-raises pre-flop, on the theory that everybody is then pot committed. Which sort of makes sense, but then the other thing you said happens - *somebody* hits a draw, and your great pre-flop hand loses (in addition to being butt-naked readable). (I think I read this thing from sklansky in 'hold'em poker for advanced players'. If my attribution is wrong, then my sincere humiliated apologies to him.)

Thanks for the concrete suggestions, they make a lot of sense. You encounter tables like that a lot in the no-money online games, but I've mostly played those because I'm a wuss. Although now it sounds like staying out of money games has been prudent given the quality of my play :-)